I can across this yesterday and originally meant to add it to the links post. But I think it deserves a post of its own, for many reasons, not the least of which, does this work? How does it compare to Fagles or Fitzgerald, the two translations I have read? Does it pair well with Kazantzakis’ Odyssey?
From what I gather, MC Lula felt that there was no version that really captured the vitality, the exuberance of how it would have been recited, chanted, lived. Of how visceral it was, in a way that only rap and hip hop is.
- Muse, rhyme of the beef of the son of Peleus
- that piled mad grief all up on the Achaeans
- and spurred to Perdition the souls of real gangstas,
- yo, and for bitches an’ crows they made banquets.
- The mighty god Zeus’s will was accomplished
- when, fighting, those two was split up in contest:
- Atrides, lord of men, and Achilles with the brilliance.
- Which of the gods willed these two to militance?
I have not had a chance to read the all of the piece yet, so I will not judge the whole at this time. But I am very intrigued and on a raw level I think it works.
“The Iliad we know today is the written form of an entire oral tradition unto itself, which ancient epic poets whose names and numbers we’ll never know invented on their feet, their genius and imagination driven forth by musical accompaniment that kept the dactylic-hexameter beat. The long, repeated sections—the formulae—existed to give the poet time to freestyle the next bit.” – MC Lula
To answer at least one of my questions, I think it works infinitely better than the Fitzgerald version, which is quite staid. Fagles is beautiful and I would have put it as the best. But, as I read this, I do feel that it strikes a chord and shows a liveliness that really is essential to a modern reading of it. Most of its modern readers will have no martial background and like me will only grasp its concepts and through imagination and other readings. To move the work to a level that is current, that is living and breathing poetry, strikes me as a worthy endeavor.